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This post covers the dress code as well as the Dos and Don’ts of an afternoon wedding guest outfit. Read to look your best dress for the event.


  1. Is there a Dress Code for Afternoon Weddings?
  2. What to Wear to an Afternoon Wedding?
  3. Which Colors to Wear to an Afternoon Wedding Party?
      • Can I Wear Black to an Afternoon Wedding?
      • Is It o.k. to Wear a Tuxedo at a Wedding as a Woman?
  4. Can You Wear Prints to an Afternoon Wedding?
  5. Which Fabrics Are Best for an Afternoon Wedding Guest Outfit?
  6. Best Shoes for an Afternoon Wedding
    • Bags and Shoes
  7. What Do You Wear to a 4pm Wedding?
  8. Best Jewelry to Wear at an Afternoon Nuptial
  9. Be Aware of the No-Nos
  10. Afternoon Wedding Guest Outfit Ideas
  11. Additional Information on Afternoon Weddings to consider
  12. Wedding Guest Attire Must not be Expensive


Disclosure: There are affiliate links in this post.


Is there a Dress Code for Afternoon Weddings?

If the event is not for a beach wedding, but some hours after lunchtime, the typical dress-code of an afternoon wedding is semi-formal. Consequently, it calls for cocktail dresses, LBDs or modest party dresses. If the invitation asks for formal attire, go for a cocktail dress or a dressy LBD.

navy blue handkerchief hem V-neck cocktail dress for an afternoon wedding guest
Plus Size Double V Neck Ruched-Waist Midi Chiffon dress


What to Wear an Afternoon Wedding?

Since it is a semi-formal event fit-and-flare, sheath, high-low hem dresses or retro-inspired cuts just with hems just above the to tea-length are best. If there is a religious ceremony involved, stay away from strapless or spaghetti straps or have a cover-up or jacket that matches the dress.



Which Colors to Wear to an Afternoon Wedding Party?

Always avoid white unless you are the bride as well as the colors of the bridal party. Otherwise everything goes from pastel to gemstone bright colors. If you can’t find out the color of the bridal party, your best bet is to take a look at the goto color palettes for the year.

little red dress for an afternoon wedding party
A Little Red Dress is a nice choice because it also works for holiday cocktail parties. Ever Pretty Plus Size V-neck Lace Bodice A-line Cocktail Dress with Sleeves


If you belong to the family, consider that wedding photos are incredibly valuable memories for the couple. Therefore choose a color that doesn’t clashes with the color of the bridal party.


afternoon nuptial gown in lavender
Ever Pretty Romantic Satin Halter Neck High Low Pleated in lavender. It also looks great in mauve or mint green.



Can I Wear Black to an Afternoon Wedding?

While in many European countries, wearing a LBD to a wedding is a No-No, it’s o.k. in the US. However, it has to have a party vibe like the dress below.


LBD for an afternoon nuptial guest look
Ever Pretty Long sleeves ruffle bodice cocktail dress

layered cocktail dress for an afternoon marriage event
Ever Pretty Plus Size V Neck Asymmetrical Hems cocktail dress. Also available in navy blue, dark purple, burgundy, purple orchid, and gray/white instead of green.


Is it o.k. to Wear a Tuxedo at a Wedding as a Woman?

In the US, a black pantsuit or tuxedo with chiffon top are great choices too. When you want to add suspenders, buy them in the color of your top. You can find more on colored suspenders and wedding Dos and Don’ts at the link.


Can You Wear Prints to an Afternoon Wedding?

Medium sized (size of your hand) floral print party dresses work well too with metallic pumps or pumps in a color of the print for a semi-formal dress code (see example photo below).


example of a vintage inspired flapper attire suitable for a summer 3pm marriage ceremony guest
High-low hem floral print dress with beading and sequins and build-in slip to avoid see-thru. Pair it with metallic flat sandals and a lavender leather or fabric clutch for a garden outdoor ceremony


floral print pleated maxi dress
Ever Pretty Pleated Sleeveless V-Neck Chiffon Maxi Dress. Dresses with floral print on a black background work in the US as well.


Which Fabrics Are Best for an Afternoon Wedding Guest Outfit?

What else should you take into mind? The fabric is important as well. For formal and semi-formal events taffeta, tulle, chiffon, lace, jacquard or silk are great fabrics. Steer away from anything to daytime like cotton, jersey, or denim.


Best Shoes for an Afternoon Wedding

If the party is outside, go for elegant wedge heels in the vibe of your dress. They help you walk on the lawn without sticking in the lawn. Peep toe pumps are a great option with short above-the-knee dresses. If the fabric of the dress is matte, go for patent leather in the same color or black. Nude patent leather is great with gemstone colored dresses. Blush or metallic shoes work nicely with pastel shade dresses.

Stylist tip: When you are a guest at an outdoor nuptial, try to get information on whether you can get to the place with heels. In Alaska, outdoor weddings might require to change the footwear to get there. Tourist are often upset when they see Alaskans wearing outdoor shoes in wedding photos.


When the party is indoors and your feet can’t endure heels for a long time have some metallic flatouts in your clutch. When everyone sits to enjoy the cake, nobody will see that you wear them.


Bags and Shoes

Don’t match the color of the clutch and shoes. On us 40+, doing so looks so 1970s and screams Old Lady. Instead, choose a bag in a different color than your shoes.  For instance, a metallic clutch with patent leather heels or vicce versa. A sequin clutch with matte open-toe pumps all in analogous colors of the color wheel or in the same color family are great combinations as well. More on ageless monochromatic looks.

For a modern look, don't match the colors of your clutch and shoes. #advancedstyle Click To Tweet



Afternoon wedding guest outfit with sequins
L.K. Bennett open Toe snake print pumps, garnet necklace and earrings, Hermes collier de Chien bangle, Nordgreen watch, sunglasses c/o SUNGAIT, clutch c/o JORD, sequin high low hem velvet dress c/o Ever Pretty Dresses. example of unmatched bag and shoes. Here the clutch has a cork feature while the pumps have a snake print.



What Do You Wear to a 4pm Wedding?

In the Southeastern US, a hat is a Must at an afternoon wedding. Take the female Royals wedding style as a guide. The hat should match the vibe and color of the dress or pick up colors of the accessories. When choosing the hat, keep in mind how you intend to wear your hair. If needed, make an appointment at the hairdresser for a blowout or fancy up-do.



Best Jewelry to Wear at an Afternoon Nuptial

Dim down the glam. Go for just one statement jewelry piece like a large cocktail ring, large dangling earrings (photo above) or a statement necklace. You will look your best with the earrings that enhance your personal style and work well with your face features.

If needed, you can determine your face shape with this free online tool.


Be Aware of the No-Nos

Avoid the following most often made style faux pas:

  1. Religious jewelry of your own faith when there will be a service of another faith.
  2. Skimpy or provocative clothes including corsages, and belly-free attire except for saris.
  3. Jeans and T-shirts, baseball caps, large view-blocking hats.
  4. Casual footwear or bags to your otherwise semi-formal outfit.
  5. Sunglasses plus long hair down plus large dangly earrings plus a wide brim hat. This combination is too much even for the Kentucky Derby.


Afternoon Wedding Guest Outfit Ideas

When you go to an afternoon nuptial in the South of the US, wear a hat that matches the vibe of your cocktail dress.


Style blogger featuring a nude and black cocktail dress guest outfit idea for a 3pm nuptial
Fishnet tight, Very Fine Dancesport Shoes, jewelry, mother-of-the-bride dress c/o JJ House and clutch c/o Bellorita. The clutch is both nude and black colors  with the black on the sides and nude on the flap. This means the clutch and sandals are unmatched.


Stylist tip: When you are on a budget, browse consignment stores in an efficient way long time ahead of the date. Unless it is a designer dress don’t pay more than $20 because there are affordable cocktail and party dresses that start at about $30.


Additional Information on Afternoon Weddings to Consider

Finally, some additional points to consider. When the location is a sports field, look for less  fancy, but posh casual, budget friendly afternoon wedding looks with dresses that you can wear also for other occasions.

When you are dressing for a civil wedding in the afternoon, the above suggested looks would be too fancy as well. Typically, civil weddings ask for festive business casual attire or a festive dress.

Is the event during the cold season? Then check also what to wear to a winter wedding.


Are you looking for outfit suggestions for all kind of dressing situation in midlife? Then my book How to Dress for Success in Midlife will be right for you. Buy the book now


Wedding Guest Attire Must not be Expensive

There are three times in life where wedding invitations accumulate, and it seems like hopping from one wedding to another. In our 20s, when our siblings, cousins, and friends get married, in our late 40s, early 50s when our kids, the kids of our siblings and cousins, and the kids of our friends get married, and may be our friends get re-married, and later in our 70s and up when our grandkids get married, and may be our kids get remarried. Obviously, the different wedding crowds may have at least some of the same guests.

There are two options:

  1. Invest in an expensive dress and make wearing it the to all weddings as your personal style statement. This means the recycling of a gorgeous dress is a statement.
  2. The other option is going for new affordable, budget-friendly dresses each time.
To wear or not to wear the same dress to all weddings of the year is the question. #budgetfashion #weddingstyle Click To Tweet


Photos: G. Kramm

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